Monday, April 03, 2006
According to a report from Associated Press, GOP leaders met today on a plan to push through a different viersion of a legalization plan than the Kennedy-McCain version passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. According to the account, Senator Frist met with Senators Cornyn and Specter about a plan to allow those in the US for five years to pursue a plan along the lines of the Kennedy-McCain plan and those less than five years would be able to work on a non-green card track in a plan akin to the Cornyn-Kyl bill. The plan has been pushed by Republican moderate Chuck Hegel of Nebraska. Hegel is set to brief Republicans Tuesday morning. The AP report also notes that Senator Frist may try and get a vote on the bill as early as the end of this week.
15,000 IMMIGRANTS RALLY IN NASHVILLE
When I started practicing immigration law in Nashville 16 years ago, I was told there was not enough of an immigrant community in Tennessee to support a full time immigration lawyer. I disagreed and went ahead and started my practice any way. But those who were doubters then probably looked at the mass of humanity in downtown Nashville this past weekend and are thinking differently about the size and importance of the Hispanic community in this typical Southern city. Kudos to the Tennessee Immigration Rights Coalition and, in particular to my friend Executive Director David Lubell.
ALEXANDER AMENDMENT WOULD CUT NATURALIZATION RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT TO FOUR YEARS FOR SOMEOne of the first votes has just taken place on an amendment offered by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN). Alexander's amendment would prescribe the binding oath or affirmation of renunciation and allegiance required to be naturalized as a citizen of the United States, encourage and support the efforts of prospective citizens of the United States to become citizens (including providing financial assistance to take English classes and offering citizenship a year early to those proficient in English). The measure passed 91 to 1.
Another amendment offered by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to provide financial aid to local law enforcement officials along the Nation's borders passed just before Alexander's amendment by a vote of 84 to 6.
Q - I've been waiting for my green card for 7 years now. Is that true that all backlogs will be eliminated once this bill becomes the law?
A - If the immigration bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee (and which is currently being debated by the full Senate) passes, backlogs in most categories would be shortened or disappear. That's one reason why passage is so important.
We're going to start posting Ask Visalaw questions in the blog as well as in Siskind's Immigration Bulletin.
Q - I'm an Italian citizen traveling to the
as a tourist. My girlfriend lives in the United States . I know that you can only resume in the United States 90 days at a time. My question is how many times in a year can I go back and forth to the US or how many days within a year can I be in the United States? Thanks for your help. United States
A - There is no limit on the number of visits you can make in a year. However, if you travel too frequently to the
USand you don’t appear to be maintaining a residence in your home country, you could be denied either because an examiner thinks you are an intending immigrant or because of a suspicion that you are working illegally in the . I would recommend spending at least a few months back in US in between US trips. Italy
NAFSA: The Association of International Educators, is urging its members to call their Senator to oppose any attempts to pass an amendment to the immigration bill which would eliminate the higher education and research institution H-1B cap exemptions. Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) attempted to get the amendment added in the Judiciary Committee markup, but failed. He may try and get the amendment added on the Senate floor during this week's debate. NAFSA is providing sample letter language to help as well as information on how to reach your Senator.
Two more immigration-related polls are out today. New American Media has a poll of 800 immigrants to the US. 60% are US citizens and the remainder are green card holders. The poll found the following:
1. The immigrant community in the United States is alarmed regarding the tone and substance of the current political debate on immigration policy. Majorities of legal immigrants from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe feel that “the anti-immigrant sentiment is growing in the United States.”
2. Undocumented immigrants have a positive image among legal immigrants from throughout the world.
3. The major political “actors” in the immigration debate in Washington, D.C. receive fairly low ratings from legal immigrants on the job they have done so far on the immigration issue. Only about one-fifth of those interviewed gave the Republican Party a positive rating on the way it has handled the debate on this issue. The U.S. Congress, President George W. Bush, and the Democratic Party do not fare much better, with only about one-third of legal immigrants giving them a positive rating.
4. The McCain/Kennedy immigration bill has majority support among legal immigrants in the United States.
For those who don't think these findings mean much, consider that 42 million Americans are immigrants and most of them are voting citizens.
Another poll has been released by the National Immigration Forum. What makes this poll different from others is it provided summaries of the Cornyn-Kyl guest worker plan (which allows undocumented workers to get legal status for six years and then they must return home) and the Kennedy-McCain plan (which legalizes the undocumented and provides a path to US citizenship). The overwhelming majority (71%) of respondents preferred the Kennedy-McCain plan.
The poll also is consistent with other polls showing illegal immigration is only listed as the most important issue by a small percentage of the public (in this case 8%). This is further evidence that immigration is not likely to be an effective wedge issue for those in either party who think opposing a guest worker program will give them a political edge.
Don't believe rumors that the H-1B cap has been hit for the 2007 fiscal year. A phony USCIS press release has been circulating stating that the H-1B cap was hit on April 1st, the first day applications were being accepted. According to Bender's Immigration Bulletin, the press release is a doctored version of a January press release. But the date of the press release should have given a hint of its validity - April 1st (that's April Fools Day for those of you from places in the world not familiar with this day of practical jokes).
Update: The USCIS just released the following announcement on the spoof:
USCIS WARNS OF SPOOF H-1B Release
Employers should continue to file FY2007 petitions
Washington, D.C.- USCIS became aware today of the circulation of a bogus release indicating that USCIS has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY 2007. The release further relays that the H-1B exemption limit for the first 20,000 foreign workers with a U.S.-earned master's or higher degree was also met. This release is not accurate and was not issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
To date, USCIS has not received enough petitions to close either the congressionally mandated H-1B cap for FY 2007 or the 20,000 worker exemption limit. USCIS is committed to ensuring that employers have accurate and timely H-1B information and will provide an update about the latest cap numbers later this week.
Just a reminder to readers that you can now begin filing H-1B petitions can now be filed for fiscal year 2007 start dates. That means that if you are requesting a start date after October 1, 2006, you can now file for an H-1B visa. We expect visas to run out even earlier this year than last year (applications were used up by August 2005 for the fedearl year which ran October 2005 to September 2006). Demand could be alleviated somewhat by the availability of 20,000 visas for US graduate program degree holders. But the economy is strong and there is a lot of pent up demand from last year. Also note an important change on filings beginning April 1st - all I-129 applications must now be filed at the Vermont Service Center. Some of the cases will be diverted to the California Service Center after filing in Vermont. I-140 green card cases will all be filed at the Nebraska Service Center and some of those cases will be forwarded to the Texas Service Center. The USCIS press release can be found on their web site here.